Which Car Class Is Right For You
To make it as easy as possible to find the perfect vehicle, weve rounded up the best cars in each class.
Already know which type of car you want? Click the links below to see our round-up of the very best. Otherwise, read on to find out more about each class.
- Best for: electric cars are worth considering if youre aiming for zero exhaust emissions and low running costs.
- Best on test: boasts brilliant range and dazzling efficiency.
- Worst on test: plagued by imprecise steering and fault rates too high to ignore.
Being exempt from car tax has made electric cars more popular than ever. Top-rated models will have a good range while offering the same functionality and practicality as their petrol and diesel counterparts.
The chief drawback for many would-be electric-car buyers is the range. More and more manufacturers are claiming their cars can travel over 200 miles, but our own tests have found electric cars that fall well short of the claimed figures.
Our Which? Car Survey asks tens of thousands of owners how reliable their cars are. The information we collect informs our reviews if a car is known to break down often or require a lot of costly repairs, it cant be a Best Buy.
- Best for: hybrid cars are an option if you want to save money on fuel but arent ready to commit to a fully electric car.
- Best on test: a real gem, pairing good looks with dependability.
- Worst on test: completely unexceptional in almost every way not a quality you want in a new car.
Best Used Luxury Suv With 3 Rows: Volvo Xc90
iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.9
- Safety Score: 10.0
Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $44,272
The Acura MDX earns honorable mention as the Best Luxury Crossover SUV for being a long-lasting and safe SUV with high value retention. Along with being the longest-lasting luxury midsize SUV, it has above-average fuel economy for its class and is among the more affordable vehicles in its class.
For more vehicles in this category, refer to the iSeeCars list of Best Luxury Crossover SUVs.
Where To Buy A Used Car
There have never been more options when it comes to where to buy, although most of the cars on the coming pages are on the newer side and so less likely to be sold privately. But regardless of where youre buying from, head over to autoexpress.co.uk/tips-advice for lots of useful information.
Independent dealers are still a major draw for the used-car buyer without the overheads of big franchised dealers, they can often cut a great deal. But franchised dealers, with the support of major car makers, offer plenty of reassurance and, more often than not, a manufacturer-backed warranty. They also generally get access to the best and newest used-car stock, and many of these models will be available on an approved used scheme. The details of these programmes vary between brands, but you can expect approved models to have a full main-dealer service history, be mechanically and cosmetically inspected, and have undergone a history check ensuring that the car hasnt previously been written off, or isnt subject to outstanding finance.
The past few years have seen a proliferation of online retailers, including our sister firm BuyaCar, which has provided the finance examples you see here. The premise couldnt be simpler: you search for a car you like online, then you can pay for the car or apply for finance, arrange your part-exchange and delivery, all from the comfort of your laptop. Its an easy, hassle-free and haggle-free method that more and more used-car buyers are using.
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The 7 Best Used Cars To Buy
- New cars lose 10% of their value within the first month of ownership and 20% within the first year.
- That’s bad news if you’re buying a new car, but great news if you’re buying a used one.
- Here are seven of the best used cars you can buy.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
There’s an old adage that a new car loses 10% of its value the moment its first owner drives it off the lot.
In fact, according to CARFAX research, that 10% depreciation occurs over the first month after the sale. And over the course of its first year, a new car will lose about 20% of its overall value.
This rapid devaluation is bad news for new car owners, but welcome news to the used car buyer.
So what are the best used cars to buy? According to Matt DeLorenzo, senior managing editor for Kelley Blue Book, the four-door sedan is always the best bet.
“There is a current crop of good, solid compact cars that have high feature sets and good fuel economy,” he said, adding that car buyers should look “particularly those from Asian brands.”
And no matter what used car you end up considering, DeLorenzo says: “Get a vehicle history. Check safercar.gov for recalls.”
Read on to see seven of the best used cars you can buy.
Best Used Family Electric Car: Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf is the car that kickstarted the electric revolution. And yet its the advanced second-generation model that takes our Best Used Family Electric Car title for 2022. With a spacious cabin and a usable range, the Leaf has the ability to dramatically reduce your running costs without the high purchase prices often associated with new electric vehicles.
Its a clever EV with an impressive range of between 174 miles and 239 miles, depending on specification. It wont take forever to charge either, with a rapid top up to 80% taking around 40 minutes.
See the latest prices for Nissan Leaf models on our sister site BuyaCar.
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Check The Colour Of The Exhaust Emissions
The exhaust may emit fine white smoke on start up. This is water vapour from the exhaust pipe itself and is totally normal. Once warm, engine exhaust will typically be very fine, so thick smoke is a cause for concern. If you spot one of the below, think twice about proceeding with a purchase.
- Black exhaust smoke is a sign that the engine is burning fuel inefficiently. This could be down to a fault in one of several components, such as fuel injectors, filters, sensors, or exhaust gas recirculation valves in diesel cars.
- Blue smoke suggests the engine is burning oil, which is likely down to a failed seal or gasket allowing oil into the engines combustion chamber.
Our free low-emissions checker reveals CO, NOX and CO2 for hundreds of cars we’ve tested, so you can make an informed decision on your next purchase.
Use Car Guide To Check Your Next Used Car
As with Facebook Marketplace, or any other car buying platform for that matter, its essential to use a car checking website to verify any vehicles details.
While it may look like a seller has included all the information you need, a comprehensive car check will reveal if anything is missing or incorrect. Thats vital given that a patchy or false vehicle history can indicate theres a more severe problem with a car, like a stolen or write-off status, outstanding finance or mileage anomaly.
Free car checks only scratch the surface of whats really going on. Our AI-powered car checking website offers something a little different: an in-depth Buyers Report of the vehicle, including its MOT history, past owners, valuation and more. Find out if a car has been stolen, written-off or still has outstanding finance. On top of that, we can also tell you about future running and repair costs. for your account today.
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Best Used Convertible: Mini Convertible
Our favourite convertible year after year, the MINI is both frugal and fun. The MINI Convertible is as good to drive as its fixed-roof sibling, and comes in a variety of trim levels and specifications ranging from the entry-level Classic to the performance-focused John Cooper Works model meaning theres a version to suit most budgets.
Higher spec models come with all the equipment youd expect for a small premium convertible, with climate control, leather seats, sat nav and a premium stereo system. The MINI Convertible also has a bigger boot than you might expect, with 215 litres on offer, and all of the petrol engines can officially return 40mpg or more.
See the latest prices for MINI Convertible models on our sister site BuyaCar.
Whats The Best Age For A Car When Purchasing Used
Buying a used car instead of purchasing a new one has obvious advantages. The most important difference is, of course, the lower price point when you buy used.
Vehicles are assets that suffer from depreciation. While this can be a headache for people who like to buy the latest models, it can be a boon for others happy to buy pre-owned vehicles. Buying a used car thats even just a few years old can mean significant savings.
We must, however, consider that older vehicles may require more maintenance and repair. Wear and tear inevitably takes its toll. So, the question arises, what is the sweet spot for buying a used car? When shopping, is there a best age for a used car?
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Our Expert Opinion On The Used Car You Should Be Buying In Every Class: The What Car Used Car Awards For 2020
Thats where the What Car? annual used car awards come in
Many people have cottoned on to the fact that buying used can offer you most of what buying new can but at a greatly reduced cost. Meanwhile, others are looking for cars at the cheaper end of the market, with the aim of reducing their dependence on public transport in the wake of Covid-19.
The first thing to consider is what makes a good car. Simply put, a good car is one that fulfils its intended brief, so whether its an SUV or a coupé, it should do what it says on the tin, and it should do it better than its closest competitors.
Reliability is crucial, and we rely heavily on the data from our own What Car? Reliability Survey when choosing our winners. Also, all the cars we recommend have to be easy to get hold of, with plenty of models on the market and with a wide choice of engines and trims.
Marry all these factors and youll have the makings of a great used car. Itll be more than just cheap itll also be good to drive, comfortable to ride in and affordable to run. Lets take a look at our favourite in every class:
Best Used Car Of The Year 2022 And Best Used Small Car: Ford Fiesta
The brilliant Ford Fiesta has taken both Best Used Car and the Best Used Small Car titles for 2022. When the Fiesta was launched, its talents earned it our Car of the Year Award in both 2018 and 2019 – the only car to have taken the award for two consecutive years. In 2020, we named the Fiesta as our Carbuyer Car of the Decade.
With plenty of second-hand models available, the Fiestas award-winning qualities shine through. We like the comfortable and smartly designed interior that contains plenty of big car features, and the excellent range of punchy engines and well-specced trim levels to pick from, including the fun to drive ST Line, rugged Active model, plush Titanium and the sporty ST hot hatchback.
Carbuyer editor Richard Ingram said: The Ford Fiesta won our overall new Car of the Year title in both 2018 and 2019 the only car to have taken top honours two years in a row. The blend of comfort, refinement, practicality and technology, as well as class-leading dynamics, make it impossible to beat. Sheer choice ensures the Ford Fiesta is a fantastic second-hand small car.
See the latest prices for Ford Fiesta models on our sister site BuyaCar.
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Are Used Electric Cars A Good Buy
Just like a petrol or diesel car, an electric vehicle will depreciate with age. This can make the earliest models the likes of the Peugeot iOn, Renault Fluence and first-generation Nissan Leaf very tempting indeed, particularly when compared with the relatively high list prices of current-generation models.
Consider your needs carefully, as used electric cars can come with unique issues to be aware of. For example, people thinking of buying an EV often have concerns about driving ranges.
Even when they were new, many early models didn’t offer particularly useful driving ranges something that won’t have improved as they age. Some very early cars, such as the Fluence, don’t even have rapid charging capability.
Furthermore, if you’re looking at a used Renault Zoe or an early Nissan Leaf model, it might be subject to a battery lease agreement, which was originally offered to lower the initial purchase price of the car.
Top 10 Used Car Websites
If youre looking for the best reliable used cars under 5000 dollars, then your first question is probably around the best used cars website!
Makes logical sense.
So what are the top used car websites out there? Where is it most likely that youll find a quality used vehicle for a decent price?
Heres our opinion of the top 10 used car websites:
Personally, Im not a big fan of finding a car thats 500 miles away, and then wasting an entire day to go see it and maybe buy it .
The beauty of Facebook Marketplace is two-fold:
- You can filter for used cars that are for sale by owner
- You can actually see who is trying to sell you a car. If theyre willing to put their name out there and sell you their car, chances are, theyre probably pretty honest and not trying to screw you with a lemon. Its more personal and therefore, theres an added layer of security there.
On all the other sites, there are two major downsides:
- Many of the cars that are listed are from dealers, so theyre marked up $2,000+ from the private party value
- Since many of the vehicles are from dealerships, they really dont have any history with the car and cant tell you much about it, which doesnt provide much assurance against that possible lemon.
So for me, I check Facebook pretty much exclusively. If Im looking for a specific vehicle, then maybe Ill extend my search onto CarGurus, Autotrader, or Edmonds.
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Best Used Large Luxury Car: Audi A7
iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.2
- Safety Score: 10.0
Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $40,202
The Acura RLX is the runner-up as the Best Used Luxury Large Car. Discontinued after the 2020 model year, new versions are no longer available, but used versions can still be found. The RLX has lower than average ownership costs and excellent safety scores as well as above-average fuel economy.
For more vehicles in this category, refer to the iSeeCars list of Best Luxury Large Cars.
How To Get The Best Deal On A Used Car
You came here trying to figure out how to find a good used car for cheap. Part of that is knowing first how to find the cheap cars, but then youve got to know how to close the deal and make the purchase!
If you want to know how to get the best deal on a used car, below are my absolute top tips!
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Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 455 Super Duty
“The fastest Firebird ever”, the 1973 Trans Am Super Duty came equipped with a 7.5L V8 with 310 hp, which provided a 0-60 time of 5 seconds flat! This is considered fairly fast even with today’s standards. It came with a 4-speed manual and 3-speed automatic transmissions.
So, how reliable was this Pontiac sports car? The Super Duty version is fairly scarce but based on base 1973 Pontiac Firebird reviews, the car sounds like it would probably last you for a couple of hundred thousand miles. Buying one would probably cost you more than $80,000, but for such a cool classic, we think it’s well worth it.
Best Used Luxury Compact Suv: Acura Rdx
iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.6
- Safety Score: Not Available
Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $91,976
Along with being the Best Used Large SUV, the Toyota Land Cruiser is also the Best Used SUV with 3 Rows. The Land Cruiser is the longest-lasting car across all vehicle segments, and also has excellent value retention. The rugged three-row hauler offers above-average towing capacity for the class and is a capable off-roader.
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Best For Mobile: Autolist
Autolist is a unique website that collects listings from dozens of used car apps and websites in one place. Its intuitive and easy-to-use app has been downloaded over seven million times and is listed in CNETs top 10 car apps making it the best used car site for mobile users.
Compiles listings from dozens of sites
Top-rated mobile app
No option to place ads
No financing tools or options
Founded in 2014, Autolist features over 1.3 million unique site visitors and 400,000 unique monthly users of its shopper-friendly mobile app, making it our choice as the best for mobile.
Autolist makes it easy for shoppers to browse millions of used car listings compiled from car shopping apps and dealer websites. Both its website and user-friendly app display valuable information on each vehicle, days on the market, changes in price, and the CARFAX report.
Autolist features a Listimate which compares the price of a specific car to similar listings to make sure shoppers are getting the best deal. Signing up for a free account also lets users set up email alerts for vehicles based on specific search criteria. Autolist also compares quotes from local new car dealers to help shoppers save money when buying a new car.
In 2020, CarGurus purchased Autolist which also allowed owners to sell their cars online with an intelligent tool that calculates a fair asking price for their car based on other vehicles in their area.